There are games where the rules are intentionally concealed from new players, either because their discovery is part of the game itself, or because the game is a hoax and the rules do not exist. In fiction, the counterpart of the first category are games that supposedly do have a rule set, but that rule set is not disclosed.

This article contains content from Wikipedia
An article on this subject has survived a
nomination for deletion at Wikipedia:
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List of games with concealed rules

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for this article and may be useful to its improvement
This article contains content from Wikipedia
An article on this subject has survived a
nomination for deletion at Wikipedia:
Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/
List of games with unspecified rules

The article and its page history on WP are attribution
for this article and may be useful to its improvement

Actual games[edit | edit source]

Discovery games[edit | edit source]

  • Wikipedia:Army of Zero: A Wikipedia:card game in which the cards also form a series of Wikipedia:puzzles, leading to a particular answer. Would-be solvers are not told what they are trying to discover, and must derive their objective as well as unravel the puzzles.
  • Bartok: A game similar to Mao in which the rules (similar to Uno) are told to new players. In addition, new rules may be introduced.
  • Wikipedia:Big Blue Moon: A game that involves saying "Big Blue Moon X Y Z", where X Y and Z are words following the rule to the game.
  • Wikipedia:Seven Eleven Doubles: A Wikipedia:drinking game played with two dice. One of the rules is that no one explains the rules, and if a rule is broken by a player, that player must take a drink. A player who rolls 7, 11, or doubles (any pair) gets to choose another player and make them drink. The player chosen to drink cannot start drinking until the dice are touched. If their roll is something else, the dice must not be touched and the player to the right gets to go next.
  • Bobby's World (or My World): A game where players declare an item that is "in" their world, and those knowing the rule confirm or deny whether it is part of their world.
  • Wikipedia:Elephant's foot umbrella stand: A parlour game in which items are added to the end of a list. Only items that follow the rule are accepted.
  • Eleusis: A card game where the object of the game is to deduce, by studying which cards have been successfully played onto a layout, the rules by which subsequent placements may be made.
  • Wikipedia:Gestalt Number Theory: A game in which one or more objects are positioned so as to represent various numbers between zero and ten (or possibly eleven). Those in the know can readily confirm the value indicated.
  • The Wikipedia:Green Glass Door: A word game that has a single rule that needs to be guessed by other players. Typically, players who know the rule will give a thematically matched pair of words, one of which "is" behind the green glass doors, and the other of which "is not."
  • Jewels in the sand: A verbal version of Eleusis.[1]
  • Mao: A card game in which a new player must try to learn the rules by observation and it is taboo to spell out the rules.
  • Wikipedia:NetHack: A rogue-like computer game in which discovery of the rules is a fundamental gameplay aspect. Descriptions of NetHack's mechanics are often called "spoilers"[2]. In addition, on each playthrough items and levels are randomized, so that one cannot simply learn what each thing does without identifying it each time.[3]
  • Wikipedia:One Hand Up: a game that has a single rule that is known to some but not others. Players take turns, and those who know correct those who do not. As people figure out the rule they are encouraged to take the lead in correcting those who do not, until one person is left in the dark.
  • Wikipedia:One Up, One Down: a Wikipedia:drinking game with improvised jargon.[4]
  • Paranoia: A Wikipedia:role-playing game set in an Wikipedia:Orwellian Wikipedia:dystopian future. The actual rules of the game are secret from the players (but not the Wikipedia:Gamemaster), while the rules presented to the players are incomplete and inaccurate, and players are penalized for showing knowledge of the actual rules. Keeping this knowledge of the rules hidden, and using it to put a player's character in a more favourable position while back stabbing others without them knowing, is one of the themes of the game, in keeping with the setting.
  • Wikipedia:Penultima: a Wikipedia:chess variant in which the moves of the pieces vary, and are initially kept secret from the players.
  • Wikipedia:Petals Around the Rose: A game played with five dice. For each roll of all dice, there is a single numerical solution, derived using a secret rule; the players then attempt to guess the solution and thus figure out the secret rule. It is taboo to reveal the secret rule. It is also known by other names.
  • Scissors: A game where a pair of scissors is passed, with the passer declaring that they are being passed "open" or "closed", and the players must figure out the rule determining which is the correct declaration.
  • Wikipedia:Skitgubbe: One variant of Skitgubbe[5] requires that a new player infer the (complex) rules of the card game.
  • Zendo: A version of Eleusis that can be played with blocks or sticks or other bits.

Hoax or joke games[edit | edit source]

  • Wikipedia:52 Pickup: A card game in which dealer scatters the cards on the floor and non-dealer must pick them up.
  • The Game: A mental game in which a player loses when they think about The Game. Since one of its rules is that "everyone in the world is playing The Game", even those who are unaware of it, The Game's rules are concealed from the majority of its players.
  • Wikipedia:Kamoulox: A joke game created by Wikipedia:Kad Merad and Wikipedia:Olivier Baroux, presented on French radio and television. The aim of the game is to be the first to say "Kamoulox".
  • Mornington Crescent: Originally a round in the Radio 4 comedy panel game Wikipedia:I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue,[6] Mornington Crescent involves naming stations on the Wikipedia:London Underground, roads and streets until Mornington Crescent is "reached". The game parodies games such as Wikipedia:contract bridge or Wikipedia:chess.
  • Wikipedia:Progress Quest: A satire of Wikipedia:MMORPGs, Progress Quest discussions will include gameplay tips, strategies, and hints, or give favorable reviews and boast of in-game accomplishments. However, the game is not interactive at all.
  • Wikipedia:Stanley Random Chess: A computer moderated chess game where 50% of the moves are made randomly from a list of all possible legal moves in the current position. Players are told that their original moves were illegal, under obscurely-named rules, and have been adjusted to the closest possible legal move. Players of SRC perpetuate the belief that the rules are all real, and that the game in fact predates standard chess.[7]
  • Inspector: A game in which a new player, who does not know the rules, is picked to be the inspector and is told to leave the room while the rest of the group comes up with a scene. A person in the group who does know the rules quickly explains to those left who do not. The inspector is brought back into the room and instructed to ask yes or no questions to try and figure out the scene. All questions ending in a consonant are answered 'no', all questions ending in a vowel are answered 'yes', and all questions ending with a y are answered 'maybe'. This goes on until either the inspector catches on, or the other players break character or give up.

Games in works of fiction[edit | edit source]

Games with undisclosed rules[edit | edit source]

Hoax games[edit | edit source]

  • Chinaman's Whist: Featured in the Wikipedia:Hancock's Half Hour episode, The Tycoon, the fictional card game is invented by Wikipedia:Sid James to fleece Hancock and his rival, Aristotle Thermopylae, of their great wealth. Additional rules are revealed by Sid after each round to give him the winning hand.
  • Clique: The online satirical gaming magazine Critical Miss featured rules for a card game called Clique, a parody of collectible card games that used printed cards and spurious spoken rules to confuse onlookers.[8]
  • Cups: An episode of Wikipedia:Friends featured a card game called Cups, which one character (Chandler) had devised as a method of giving money to another character (Joey) without Joey realizing it. Thus, Chandler made up rules on the fly so that he would always lose. (Unfortunately, Joey then played the game with another character (Ross), and lost all the money he had won.)
  • Double Cranko, Triple Cranko: The episode of M*A*S*H "Your Hit Parade" (1978) featured Wikipedia:Hawkeye Pierce and Wikipedia:B. J. Hunnicutt playing an incomprehensible game called "Double Cranko", and alluded to the presumably more complex "Triple Cranko".
  • Wikipedia:Creebage: In the episode, "The Frodis Caper" of the television series Wikipedia:The Monkees, the character of Wikipedia:Micky Dolenz invents a card game on the fly with incomprehensible rules known as Creebage, to distract an old-style gangster holding him captive. While the gangster is distracted, Micky escapes, with the gangster holding up some cards and shouting, "But, I have a creebage!"
  • Wikipedia:Fizzbin: In the 1968 Star Trek episode "A Piece of the Action", Captain Kirk spontaneously invents a card game called fizzbin after being captured, in order to distract the henchmen guarding him.
  • Wikipedia:Go Johnny Go Go Go Go: The British Wikipedia:sitcom Wikipedia:The League of Gentlemen features a card game indirectly inspired by Mornington Crescent called Go Johnny Go Go Go Go which has rules that appear to be entirely fictional (or deliberately overcomplex and obfuscated) for the purposes of defrauding naive players.

These rules include; "Jacks are worth ten - apart from one eyed jacks which are wild cards kings are worth three. Round one you get a hand of nine, round two a hand of seven. Twos are wild card apart from diamonds which retain their face value, except the king of diamonds ("obviously"). You play in sequence unless you can match a pair or play a card in ascending or descending order; that’s a "Go, Johnny, Go, Go, Go, Go." You stand up, pick up all the cards on the table and shout “Go, Johnny, Go, Go, Go, Go!” The winner is the man with the most tricks after fifteen hands"

It is described as a cross between "Hoover" and "Eight Men Down

  • I Win!: In Big Daddy, Nazo (Wikipedia:Rob Schneider) attempts to play cards with Julian (Wikipedia:Cole and Dylan Sprouse). Whatever card combination Julian has, he declares, "I win!" A frustrated Nazo asks Julian what the name of the card game they're playing is. Says Julian, "I win!"
  • Kleebob: In the very first episode of Wikipedia:The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1950) George tries to trick Gracie with a made-up card game called "Kleebob".
  • Jiggly ball: In the Scrubs episode "Wikipedia:My Jiggly Ball", Janitor tricks the main character J.D. into claiming that he knows how to play the nonexistent game "Jiggly Ball." Janitor then challenges J.D. to a game in which hospital staff members pelt him with tennis balls. J.D. then realizes that there is no actual game called Jiggly Ball, but his pride prevented him from conceding to Janitor earlier.
  • Pai Tai: In Wikipedia:The Bob Newhart Show, a group is playing poker, and Howard never wins a hand. When it becomes his turn to deal and call the game, Howard announced they are going to play Pai Tai - Chinese poker. He deals each player a different number of cards, and explains that no kings are allowed in Pai Tai, and if any player has kings, they must be thrown away. If this leaves a player with no cards, they cannot fold and must sit in place until they lose. There are no raises and no bluffing, everyone bets, then reveals their cards, and whatever cards Howard was holding turned out to be a "Pai Tai" and won. Jerry then deals and announces a game of "Klotski", or Polish poker, for which every player needs a banana.
  • Spat: This card game could be seen as a precursor to Mornington Crescent. It was played in the episode of Wikipedia:The Goodies entitled "Holidays" (from the LWT series). Tim and Graeme knew all sorts of "secret rules" while Bill had never played before and consequently lost every round.
  • TEGWAR: The book Wikipedia:Bang the Drum Slowly by Mark Harris includes a game called TEGWAR, The Exciting Game Without Any Rules. Played by professional baseball players as a way to dupe unsuspecting fans out of their money, the game features rules that are made up on the spot. Each time a non-initiate thinks he has understood how to play, he is told of a new wrinkle in the rules that he somehow did not catch. (The game also appears in the 1973 film of the same name.)
  • In the Young Ones, Rik, Mike and Vyvyan play a card game where Rik consistently loses as "people with an R in their name are only allowed one card".
  • In an episode of the second series of Bottom, Richie asks Eddie to suggest a card-game, and Eddie suggests "One-Card Slam"; he immediately slams one card down on the table, and says "Ooh! 12 quid!". Demonstrating extraordinary gullibility, Richie pays up, promising that one day he'll discover the rules.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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